Despite his bitter departure from Adelaide United in 2007, there was a feeling of sympathy for former Reds boss John Kosmina as he returned to his clouded future with Sydney FC.
Kosmina watched his unsettled A-League side play better football than Adelaide for long stretches at Adelaide Oval on Saturday, only to see them undone by a lack of finishing power and the Reds' own surging confidence.
The 2-0 defeat leaves Sydney six points out of the top four with only three games remaining, causing Kosmina to concede "we're history" in terms of the finals - the first time in four seasons they have failed to make it.
Whether Kosmina himself will become just another statistic of a club that had three managers in as many years prior to his appointment could be decided as early as this week, if Sydney's new owners deem the season to be over.
But based on the chopping and changing that has afflicted the team in 2008-09, through injuries and feverish player movements, it is difficult to imagine another turnover of staff doing any more good than harm.
"There's been a lot of changes, a lot of new faces, and then within that was a lot of changes anyway because of the problems we have with injuries," Kosmina said.
"So it was always going to be difficult - too many changes too often.
"If you look at the first part of the season when there weren't many changes, we created a bit of flow, we had some momentum.
"If you change players frequently, the personality of the team changes as well and you don't create momentum."
There was a hint of friendly jealousy when Kosmina assessed the Adelaide team now managed by the man who used to be his deputy, Aurelio Vidmar.
Kosmina's last campaign as coach was the one that earned Adelaide the Asian Champions League place that Vidmar took full advantage of, taking his side on a historic run to the final and then to fifth place in the Club World Cup in Japan.
In doing so he allowed his team to become as hardened and organised as any unit seen in the A-League, one that can manufacture wins despite common handicaps of scheduling, climate or, as was the case at Adelaide Oval, a flint-hard pitch.
"They're an experienced side, all around the park they've got some solid players," Kosmina said.
"We're a little naive in some areas, and that's what's killed us almost every week.
"You gain experience through playing games.
"We've blooded a lot of kids - you had two 17-year-olds on the park in the last 15-20 minutes, you look at Ryan Grant for example, he came on and looked like he'd been out there all his life.
"That's how you get over naivety, that's where you pick up your football smarts from."
As for the future, Kosmina articulated his powerlessness.
"I don't want to lose my job but if the new owners come in and want to make a change they make a change, I can't do anything about that, can I?" he said.